Thursday, June 20, 2013

On the Purging of Things

I'm not sure how, but for some reason, last week I started reading Miss Minimalist's blog. I think I found it via an article about New York City's smallest apartment or something. I've always had a fascination with apartments, especially studio apartments and lofts. I'd love to have one of those big, industrial lofts with the high ceilings like you see on interior decorating websites.

Something like this, maybe? source

I could even go for something like this source

One thing you'll notice from both of these photos is a beautiful lack of clutter. 

I have always hated having clutter in my spaces, but it is so hard to avoid. One day you move into an empty place and the next, your drawers, closets, cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, garage, china hutch, under-the-bed space, vanity...are all full of stuff. It becomes oppressive. 

I've had the "luxury" of moving 6 times in the last 5 years and each time, I try to downsize a little bit. In reality, I own a lot less stuff than the average person, mostly due to moving into pre-furnished apartments. Last year I did an inventory of my things and I realized that 99% of what I own falls into the following categories: clothing, shoes, jackets, purses, kitchen- and baking-ware, and books. I own no furniture, no appliances, and just a handful of small electronics. Excluding clothing, everything I own fits into about 10 Rubbermaid totes. Of course, I would have more if I didn't currently live in my dad's apartment.

And yet, I still feel like I own too much stuff. My dad has pointed out in the past that I go on regular purges of my stuff. Finally, I connected the dots and started reading about other people who do this, too, except they have a fancy title for themselves: minimalists.

I am far from a minimalist but the idea intrigues me. I have always been obsessed with the idea on living on less in every way possible.

Miss Minimalist has, or at one point had a 10-item wardrobe including shoes, a coat, and a purse! I could never do that as between coats, purses, and shoes, I'm already close to 50 items. Most women will admit to being a "shoe girl," a "purse girl," or a "coats girl," but damn it, somehow I'm all three. And I tend to let myself have at 'er when I see something I like (which is practically everything, who are we kidding).

Miss Minimalist likes to use the phrase "just enough" and that is my aim for my possessions. My ideal situation is that I wouldn't own anything that I don't actually use. I am working on that this summer and have already gotten rid of a fair bit.

I'm also trying to take to heart the idea that possessions are just promises and that I really don't need another cardigan, or another pair of shoes, or another bottle of nice-smelling body wash. One or two of each is plenty; any more is a waste of money.

And, as much as it'll pain me, I am vowing to get rid of some of my coats, shoes, and purses. 

This may or may not have been my shoe pile until right before I started this blog post...and this may or may not just be a small sample of my shoe collection.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On the Pursuit of Fitting Into Skinny Pants

I donated my skinny pants today.

I haven't done an official poll, but I would imagine that the vast majority of women keep at least one pair of skinny pants in their closet. They act as a simple (sometimes sad) reminder that one day, you didn't weigh as much as you do now. They're also supposed to act as a motivator to get yourself to the gym.

Let me tell you about my skinny pants, or rather, ex-skinny pants.

I ordered them online in 2008 from Forever 21. I underestimated my pant size and they didn't fit. I decided to hang onto them in the vain hope that one day, I might fit in them. Yada yada, you know the drill. In 2009, I weighed probably the most I ever have, although I have no idea what that number was, as I didn't own a scale. I didn't like it, so I started working out constantly and managed to lose 15-25lbs, possibly. Again, no scale to know for sure. Lo and behold, the Forever 21 pants finally fit. Toward the end of my obsessive working out, they were even getting a bit big.

Me, in said pants. Christmas 2009.

...And then the PARE happened (for the lazy: it's a fitness test). I'm not going to go into the whole story, but I did the PARE in 2010 and it didn't go so well. Okay, I actually did really well until the part that required upper body strength. I failed (albeit, not terribly) but ended up having to go to the hospital for crushing chest pain and a heart rate that wasn't decreasing. I know now that I have exercise asthma, which likely played a big role in my failing, but at the time, I was devastated I didn't pass. I thought I was in such great shape, and the embarrassment of failing a fitness test, especially in front of a bunch of people, was upsetting. I had even done some temporary damage to my ribcage during the PARE, and was told by the doctor to lay off the gym for awhile. I was so upset by the whole thing, I stopped working out.

As you can imagine, within a few months, the skinny pants stopped fitting. At this point, I was pretty wrapped up in moving back to Ontario and was too busy to care either way.

Since then, they have sat in my closet along with the rest of my pants. I've since returned to the gym, although it's a different story now that 1) I screwed up my knee in late 2010, and 2) I don't have a concrete goal anymore (the PARE being the previous goal). I had come so far in 2009 and every time I go into a gym now, the disappointment of the PARE and my knee are sometimes all I can think about. It's just not the same anymore.

Additionally, in the last 4 years, I've come to realize that being skinny is overrated and I shouldn't want something just because society tells me I should. You know what? I like food and dare I say it, YOLO. It's important to me to be healthy but it's more important to enjoy my one chance at enjoying myself. Everything in moderation. If I'm carrying a bit of extra flab, so be it. At least I'm happy, right? I'm also old enough to know that happiness isn't magically achieved as soon as something happens, be it the possession of a tangible object, or due to an event occurring. Happiness is achieved by appreciating what you already have and accepting who you are now. I don't need the skinny pants to lie to me, whispering to me that if I fit in them, I will finally be happy. I'm already happy, size 10 pants and all.

This weekend I went on a purge of things I don't wear/read/use, and away the skinny pants went, along with the pressure to fit into them. If I never fit into them again, I'll never know, and that's perfectly okay.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On Facing Fears

Hello, world. It's been a few months.

When I started this blog, my hope was not just to be another crafting/sewing blog; I actually wanted to write about my thoughts on things. Even though the lack of entries may make it seem like I've forgotten about this blog -- or worse: have no thoughts, I actually think about this blog on a daily basis. I'm just really crappy about actually sitting down and writing anything.

 For several years now I've felt this push-pull for and against blogging. I want to have an interesting public blog, but I struggle with putting too much information out "there" about myself. But I digress.


 Last year, I decided I wanted to play house league soccer again. I played for 2 years in 1998/1999 and although I liked it, I suffered such bad anxiety before games that I had to stop playing. I've never been the athletic type, and growing up as a preteen in 1998-1999 when Nike and Adidas were staples of every cool kid's non-gym wardrobe, I was very self-conscious about my lack of athleticism. It didn't help that girls that age (12-13) become unbearably competitive about everything, and being totally non-competitive as a person, I just couldn't handle it anymore, so I happily quit.

 Unfortunately I didn't end up playing last year because I thought I was moving to Windsor. This year when it was decided pretty early on that I'm staying put for the foreseeable future, I immediately signed up again for soccer.

 And then the nerves began. The regret began. The temptation to just not show up to any games, to forfeit my $175, began. It felt like rusty, old feelings in my system were being salvaged from the attic, dusted off and brought back into the light. It felt like 1999 all over again.

I've had problems with anxiety my whole life but now that I'm a bit older and can recognize when I'm being irrational, I've gotten pretty good at talking myself out of anxiety. The soccer nerves were difficult to combat, though. Most of my nervousness was a fear of the unknown. What if I'm really terrible at soccer? What if everyone is really good and resents me being on the team? What if the unbearable female competitive thing is even worse now? These were things I could never know unless I faced them.

I'd like to say I had totally talked myself down off the ledge by the time our first game crept up on the calendar, but I'd be lying. The good old pre-soccer stomach ache even joined me for the drive to the pitch (a soccer term my dad helpfully reminded me of).

Without a long story about my first game, everything turned out fine. What a surprise, huh? Since my league is 27+ up and I just turned 27, I'm the youngest person on the team.  Most of the other girls are in their 30s, some in their 40s. Most have kids. None are professional soccer players. None are particularly competitive. All are super friendly. As soon as I heard everyone bantering about how out of shape they were, I instantly relaxed.

After the game, one of my new teammates said to me, "I hope you're not the super competitive type, because that's not what our team is about." Sweeter words have never been spoken... Well, until they asked me to join them for drinks at the bar after (a regular post-game tradition).

I'm now extremely grateful I didn't play last year, because there's a chance I wouldn't have been put on the team I'm on. Our team is exactly what I was hoping for, I almost want to call up the league coordinator and thank them personally.

As I drove away from my first game, I was actually a little sad I was going to miss the next 2 games while I went to Mexico. In one day, I did a complete 180. And those 1998-1999 nerves are safely tucked back where they belong, in the past.
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